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U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., voted in favor of a plan today put together by Republican and Democrat leaders that cuts spending as it raises the nation’s debt ceiling.  Enzi said that the legislation, while not doing as much as necessary to get the federal government’s financial house in order, is a first step toward a habit of responsible spending.  It was a better choice than the government not being able to pay its bills.

The Senate has agreed to raise the nation’s debt limit between $2.1 and $2.4 trillion on the condition that government spending is cut more than the debt limit is increased. If that were done 10 consecutive years and enforced, it would balance the budget.   About $917 billion in cuts come in the form of spending limits over 10 years.  The rest of the cuts would be recommended by a bi-partisan committee of Congressional lawmakers before Thanksgiving.  The committee’s recommendation would be put to a vote in the House and Senate and if the vote failed, or if the committee fails to come up with a plan, an automatic $1.2 trillion cut would be enacted. 

“The last election showed the intense concern over spending, highlighted by the new trillion-dollar health care bill. Legislation is evolutionary and seldom successfully revolutionary,” said Enzi. “The American people are educating Congress – and Congress is slowly learning. If we could get more of my colleagues to travel to Wyoming and listen to the people, a balanced budget would happen faster.            

“This deal does not solve all of our budget problems, but it keeps us in the hunt.  It furthers our pursuit of a solution. The debate has changed from how much to spend to how much to cut.  It contains permanent spending controls.  It doesn’t contain tax increases.  It does require Congress to vote on a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment before the end of the year. 

“I’ve proposed and voted for better plans, but this is a better choice than the federal government not being able to meet its financial obligations. Voting for this plan or watching the government default were the only two choices I had today.  When you are in a catch-22 situation there are no great choices. If we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we won't be able to pay our bills and interest rates will go up, which will put us even further in debt.” 

The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the plan. The House voted last night 269-161 in favor of passage and the President has indicated he will sign it.

Enzi is hopeful the annual appropriations process will bring about more spending cuts and was pleased at least that the debt ceiling debate has brought attention to the debt problem we face.  Going forward he hopes more people will look at his “One Cent Solution” (S. 1316).  That bill would cut spending by 1% for six years, cap spending in the seventh year, and achieve a balanced budget in the eighth year.  That’s a $7.5 trillion spending cut over 10 years.